Title: Wheeler-Dealer (Ghost and Camper Kooky Mystery #1)
Author: Rita Moreau
Published on: 8 April 2021
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Wheeler-Dealer is a first book in Rita Moreau’s A Ghost and Camper Kooky Mystery series. Wheeler-Dealer is an eclectic mix of alphabet agencies, a ghost from purgatory, camping, mobs, murder and mayhem!
Mabel Gold isn’t sure what hit her – her husband of thirty years left her for a woman who’s as young as their youngest daughter. Wanting to restart her life, Mabel buys a camper and decides to travel across the country. The vintage camper comes with a bonus – a ghost named Irma. Irma has to do some good deeds before St Peter allows her to cross the gates of heaven.
Mabel’s best friend Lili and her husband Bob go on camping trips regularly. This time, they are taking Mabel along. In Savannah, the group will be joined by two more families. As the trio reach Savannah and meet rest of the group, Mabel is warned by Irma – someone in the group is about to die. Mabel’s ex is a plastic surgeon and ‘well-known’ amongst the mobsters. He works in lieu with the alphabet agencies in catching the bad guys. Oscar, a fellow camper, talks to Mabel about her ex-husband and the next day, he’s goes missing – and later, found dead.
The manager at the camping grounds, Selma, is arrested for the murder – Oscar was a con artist and had promised Selma high returns on an investment; Selma had learned of his tricks and had threatened to kill him.
Irma wants to solve this case so that St Peter can open the gates of heaven for her. Mabel finds herself in the mix – Selma is innocent and Mabel must help her.
Wheeler-Dealer is a fantastic cozy series debut. The author has given equal importance to character introduction and mystery. Speaking of character introduction, I don’t think I have read a cozy mystery before where the protagonist is married to a mob family and has photos kept in a safety deposit box – photos that might be her ticket to freedom (if cornered, that is). Mother of five children and grandmother of some more, Mabel is not your usual senior-sleuth. She’s kind, loving and quirky. She’s also nosy – a very important trait of an amateur sleuth. Ahem.
A dash or two of humor ups the entertainment factor of the story by a notch. Irma might be a ghost from purgatory but wants to have her quota of fun with the FBI agents (stacks of boxes ‘accidentally’ fall of them while interviewing Mabel). Mabel confides in Lili about Irma – so that Lili doesn’t think her friend’s gone cray-cray. (Talking to oneself certainly falls under this category; Irma is visible only to Mabel.)
The mystery behind the murder is well-maintained until the end. The final act – or denouement, is mind-blowing. When you have ghosts to support your sleuthing, nothing can go wrong! Not even if the killer is right in front of you, with a gun aimed at your forehead. Uh-huh!
Wheeler-Dealer by Rita Moreau is an entertaining, enjoyable and unique mystery. If you are looking for a quirky cozy read with a paranormal touch, you might want to give this book a try.